20.10.2010 - UNESCOPRESS

The President of Chile promotes education and thanks UNESCO for helping Chile

© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard - Director-General Irina Bokova, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, and Chairperson of the Executive Board Eleonora Mitrofanova at the plenary session of the Executive Board at its 185th session, on 20 October 2010.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, speaking today at the plenary session of UNESCO’s Executive Board, expressed thanks for the Organization’s help in rebuilding schools and other buildings in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck his country last February.

“I wish to thank UNESCO for the generous support it provided in the weeks and months that followed the devastating earthquake, in which we lost a third of our schools and hospitals in affected areas”, said President Piñera, who also focused on the importance of education in building societies based on peace, tolerance and well-being. “We must win the battle of education for all the children of the world”, he declared, because “there is no greater investment – be it moral, political or socio-economic – than providing our children with quality education”. “Chile faces the challenge of moving towards new forms of bilingual education”, the Head-of-State, added, announcing that “by 2014, every school in Chile will have broadband Internet and computer access”. “The goals we have set ourselves are very ambitious”, he said, “but we are investing public resources to help us achieve them”.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova congratulated Sebastián Piñera for the successful outcome of the rescue operation to save the 33 miners trapped in the San José mine: “The calm efficiency of the rescue operations and the courage and positive outlook in the face of extreme adversity shown by the 33 miners trapped in the San José mine has exalted Chile”, she said. “I would like to congratulate you for the role you personally played in organizing the response to this emergency, which ended as we all hoped it would”.

Before making his statement at the Board’s plenary session, Sebastián Piñera, accompanied by the Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister, Alfredo Moreno, met with the Director-General. Together, they reviewed some of UNESCO’s current priorities: making education and culture important items on the development agenda, working to develop an international tsunami warning system, fighting climate change and promoting the effective management of the world’s water resources. President Piñera presented the Director-General with a framed copy of the note which provided evidence that the 33 miners were alive and which read “All 33 of us are well inside the shelter”, together with a piece of rock from the mine and a medal commemorating the bicentenary of Chilean Independence in 2010.

Irina Bokova and President Piñera will meet again at the 20th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in Mar del Plata on 3 and 4 December 2010, which the Director-General will attend at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Chile has been a member of UNESCO since 1953 and its capital city, Santiago, is home to the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago).

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